Friday, July 8, 2016

Fighter Friday - A-10 Thunderbolt II

Today's fighter is fighter sized but not really a fighter.  It is in fact an attack aircraft and probably one of the best aircraft in that role.  Although, with the right armament, it could probably be used as a fighter too.
 The A-10 Thunderbolt II (or known by its fans as the Warthog) was developed in the 1970's to fill a need for an aircraft to deal with the masses of Soviet armor that was thought to eventually crash through the East-West German border. 
 The plane came out of a requirement by the US Air Force to replace the A-1 Skyraider.  After some competition, the A-10 emerged victorious and had its first flight in 1972.  It wasn't until 1977 that the first unit reached the lines.  It was built around a 20mm Gatling gun which was very effective against armor.  It could also carry an impressive amount of weapons under the wings.  It carried the equivalent of 2 B-17's worth of bombs.  The cockpit was encased in a titanium tub and the plane itself was designed with maximum survivability in mind.  Not only has it fared well against enemy ground fire, it has survived against politics.
 It also designed with maximum redundancy in mind.  The Warthog can fly home with a tail and engine missing.  There was an example of one that flew with most of its wing missing.
The name is Thunderbolt....but you can just call me Bert!
It also has a pretty impressive loiter time making it perfect for covering combat search and rescue operations.

Sadly, I think it is going to be retired despite the fact that both the Army and Marines like the plane.  The Air Force is proposing using one of the more sexy fighters in its place.  I don't think those will do nearly as well.

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